The best way to become good at something is to practice. So, what should you do if you want to draft a better fantasy football team?
Practice, of course!
Leading up to the start of the 2021 NFL season, we will use the 2021 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Simulator (powered by FantasyPros) to complete fantasy football mock drafts.
We will use a variety of scoring formats -- PPR, half-PPR, standard scoring and even 2-QB leagues, league sizes and draft slots. The goal is to give you a good representation of the team that you may be able to construct given your league settings and the rationale of why we made the picks we did.
+ Our mocks will be tracked here: Fantasy Football Mock Drafts.
That said, nothing beats practicing yourself so (check out the simulator) and complete a mock in a matter of minutes.
Half-PPR Mock Draft: 12 Teams, 5th Pick
No running back scored more fantasy points in half-PPR formats than Kamara in 2020. The versatile back had exactly 81 receptions in each of his first three NFL seasons and then set a career high (83) in 2020. That said, he was on pace for a much higher career-best number before Drew Brees (ribs) missed four weeks. The only three games that Kamara failed to reach three catches came with Brees sidelined.
Mixon appeared in only six games in 2020 and he has now missed multiple games in three of his four NFL seasons. That said, Mixon had a minimum of 19 touches in the six games in which he appeared in 2020. Through Week 6, Mixon had more carries (119) than all running backs not named Derrick Henry (123) and was top 10 among running backs in targets (26).
While the team's quarterback play hasn't done him many favors, McLaurin managed to set career highs with 87 catches and 1,118 yards in his second season. While his Y/R dipped to 12.9 from 15.8, he set career highs in YPG (74.5) and catch rate (64.9%). Even though WFT didn't draft a QB in April, signing Ryan Fitzpatrick in free agency boosts McLaurin's outlook and puts him squarely in the WR1 (top 12) mix.
Thielen averaged only 61.7 YPG, but he scored 14 touchdowns in 2020. Only three receivers were targeted more often in the red zone than Thielen (19).
Gaskin was off to a strong start through Week 8, but he only appeared in three games (Weeks 13, 16 and 17) after that point. Even though he missed six games, he ranked 15th among running backs in receptions (41). In addition, only three running backs had more receptions in the 10 weeks that Gaskin played.
The former seventh-round pick out of Washington has shown the ability to be highly productive and the Dolphins were unable to draft one of the top three backs in the 2021 NFL Draft. While I currently project a first-round running back to the Dolphins in my early 2022 NFL Mock Draft, Gaskin is a viable RB2 for fantasy managers in 2021.
6.08 - D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Chark missed three games in 2020 and averaged 12.9 yards per game less than in 2019, but improved quarterback play with Trevor Lawrence makes Chark a bounce-back candidate for 2021.
Foot and hamstring injuries (plus the COVID-19 list) limited Samuel to only seven games in 2020. Samuel played only one snap (his final snap of 2020) against WFT in Week 14, but he had 65-plus yards in each of the final four games in which he appeared before that. Due to his physical playing style, he's always a threat to miss time, but he's a viable WR3 (or better) in the weeks that he's on the field.
Down the stretch in their Super Bowl run, the Buccaneers relied on Fournette as their lead back. In four playoff games, Fournette totalled 448 scrimmage yards and four total touchdowns on his 82 touches including 18 receptions. Going into 2021, Fournette should continue his role as the team's RB1.
Josh Jacobs and Drake combined for a total of 570 touches last season as lead backs of their respective teams and that combined number will (obviously!) drop significantly. The Raiders plan to use Drake in a variety of ways including at receiver, but Drake shouldn't be drafted as anything more than a flex option in 2021.
Jones averaged 61.1 YPG -- a three-year high -- last season and has averaged no less than 56.4 YPG over the past five seasons. In addition, he has scored nine touchdowns in three of his past four seasons. While I really like Chark as a WR3 for this team, Jones is a high-floor option in the double-digit rounds.
Battling a laundry list of injuries, Stafford still managed to play a full 16-game slate. Without his No. 1 target (Kenny Golladay) for most of the season, Stafford's per-game numbers dropped considerably year over year from 312.4 yards and 2.4 touchdowns per game in 2019 to 255.3/1.6 in 2020. Traded to L.A. to play for a more creative offensive mind, Stafford is poised to bounce back with good health in 2021.
Entering 2020 with 14 career receptions, Tonyan scored nearly as many touchdowns (12 counting the playoffs) as he had career receptions prior to last season. While teammate Davante Adams led the NFL with 18 touchdown receptions, Tonyan's 11 regular-season scores tied a position high with Travis Kelce. The biggest threat to Tonyan's 2021 outlook is the offseason drama between the Packers and Aaron Rodgers.
13.05 - Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
The top overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Lawrence has the arm talent to make any throw and is a plus athlete with the ability to extend plays or be used on designed runs. With a top-10 fantasy strength of schedule and the likelihood to trail in most of their games, Lawrence is a QB2 with upside heading into his rookie campaign.
14.08 - San Francisco 49ers, DST, San Francisco 49ers
Smith scored more touchdowns in 2020 (nine including a rushing score) than he did in his first three NFL seasons combined (eight). And while he set career highs in targets (65), receptions (41) and receiving yards (448), Smith likely frustrated his fantasy managers as he was held to 20 receiving yards or less in more than half of his games last season.
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